I remember when sugar was the worst food you could eat. Then, fat was making all the “bad food” headlines. Now, it seems carbohydrates are the culprit for all the weight gain in the world. Thinking of food as good and bad makes feeling positive about eating difficult; so do other food rules on how to eat, where to eat, when to eat, etc.
When I did a search on the internet, here are some rules around food and eating that I found (and some that I used to live by):
don’t eat after 7:00pm or 3 hours before sleeping
chew food well (at least 20 times each mouthful)
don’t eat fruit with other foods
drink only water while eating
don’t drink anything while eating
don’t mix proteins with carbohydrates
never eat desserts with other foods
don’t eat proteins with desserts
avoid eating fruit or desserts for dinner
only eat organic food
eat several small meals throughout the day
breakfast is the most important meal of the day
finish everything on your plate, after all, people are starving in Africa
eat your veggies
just exercise more and it won’t matter what or how much you eat
you can eat all the fat-free foods you want
if you feel bad, eat a cookie and you’ll feel better
And, the newest one: Don’t eat anything your great-great-great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
Notice that some rules contradict others?
Which rules would you add to the list?
Imagine the length of this list if I included all the rules around “good” foods and “bad” foods.
What affect do all these rules have on you?
This is a great question to ask yourself. I think one thing it does is leave you feeling like you can’t trust yourself. Instead, you trust what someone else has told you. Now, throw in how you feel if you don’t follow the rules or if you rebel against the rules, just because they are rules. This lack of trust and negative feeling doesn’t just stop at food or eating… it extends to other areas of your life too.
Throw out the rules
If you throw out the rules (or keep only the ones that really fit for you), I think you will find you start to listen to your body, what it wants and how it responds to food. I think you will start to trust yourself and let other people have their opinions without trying to change them. As well, other’s opinions of what you eat won’t bother you.
Anne Cuthbert M.A. is a Licensed Professional Counselor working in Portland, OR. She works with men and women who feel out of control with food, helping them to end the diet cycle and learn to enjoy life again.
Visit her website at http://www.foodisnottheenemy.com to download her free report “5 Steps Toward a Diet Free Life” and to sign up for her monthly newsletter.